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All-woman SC Bench convicts teacher for assaulting class-II student

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An all-woman Bench of the Supreme Court has convicted a teacher from Karnataka who assaulted a Class-II student resulting in loss of vision in left eye of the student.
A Bench of Justice R Banumathi and Justice Indira Banerjee passed the order on September 5 when they sat together in a women-only Bench.

The accused school teacher, CR Kariyappa, had used a wooden stick to beat up the student for not wearing uniform shoes, resulting in an injury to the left eye of the minor. Despite two surgeries, the Class-II student’s left eye suffered loss of vision.

He was acquitted by the trial court but the high court convicted him under Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code (Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means) and sentenced him to two-year imprisonment, forcing him to move the top court.

In his appeal before the Supreme Court, he contended that the trial court was right in acquitting him holding that the child witness was tutored.

However, the all-woman Bench rejected his contention. It chose to convict him under Section 325 of the Indian Penal Code (Voluntarily causing grievous hurt) and modified the sentence from two-year jail term to one-year imprisonment.

“Though the stick wielded by the appellant has been marked as MO1, there is no material to show that the stick that was wielded by the appellant was a dangerous weapon In the absence of such evidence, in our view, the conviction of the appellant under Section 326 may not be warranted; but the offence would fall under Section 325 of IPC, ‘voluntarily causing grievous hurt’,” it said.

It also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on the convict to be paid as compensation to the injured student.

This was only the second time that an all-woman Bench assembled in the Supreme Court. It was in 2013 that Justice Gyan Sudha Misra and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai sat together in a Bench.

The top court created a history of sorts last month when Justice Banerjee took oath as a top court judges taking the number of woman judges to three – which is an all time high.

Since its inception in 1950, the Supreme Court never had more than two sitting woman judges. Justice Banerjee was only the eighth woman to become a Supreme Court judge.